Crew training to do water rescues, unexpectedly help save two after plane crash in Merlin Tuesday

MERLIN, Ore — People training to do water rescues in the Rogue River early Tuesday morning, were unexpectedly thrown into a real-life situation.

Multiple agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, responded to the crash near Ennis Riffle County Park in Merlin just before 9:30 a.m. A male pilot and female passenger self-extricated from the plane uninjured and called for help.

“Cause of the crash was an engine failure,” Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said. “They were just out here in this rural environment. There’s no where else to really put [the plane] down safely, so he chose the option he thought was best. Extremely fortunate ending to this incident.”

RELATED: Small plane crashes into Rogue River, no injuries reported

Sami Hawkins, surf water rescue instructor for Sierra Rescue, said training in the area of Ennis Riffle is rare for them.

“It was the perfect place, perfect time,” Hawkins said. “I honestly thought it was a jet boat at first and then I didn’t really pay attention. A parked truck came in and I heard them yell help.”

Daniel said the two people on board, climbed to the cockpit as they were awaiting help. Hawkins said her trainees did a great job jumping in to save them.

“It was definitely a highlight, to do a real-life rescue during rescue training.”

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office said the plane is a 2002 Vans RVA single-engine plane. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board has been contacted for investigation purposes.

Anthony Carter is a reporter for NBC5 News. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Elizabethtown College in 2019. Anthony started his career as a print journalist, covering New York sports and the NBA Draft. He then started his own sports podcast and website covering the Arena Football League. Anthony moved to the Rogue Valley in 2019 as a news producer before joining the NBC5 News family. Anthony likes to workout at the gym, play basketball, and root for his Atlanta Hawks and New York Jets. Want to connect with Anthony? send him an email: [email protected]
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